Paul Rosenberg interviews historian Victoria Walcott about why we need Utopian visions to create social change. Ms. Walcott's new book (Living in the Future: Utopianism and the Long Civil Rights Movement) not only reminds us that the rapid-fire successes of the Civil Rights movement only came about through decades of education and agitation, but that young Coretta Scott gave Martin Luther King, Jr., Edward Bellamy's famous Utopian novel Looking Backward while they were still courting, and the book informed much of Dr. King's thinking during the '60s. She also reminds us that the notion that "working-class people had a right to leisure, had a right to intellectual life, had a right to artistic endeavors" was once a Utopian vision. Her book comes out later on this month. (And not for nothing, but far too many of us embraced dystopian thinking during the '80s and '90s, not just because of the right-wing ascendancy in America, but because of our own immaturity.)
Robert McChesney and John Nichols, writing at the Columbia Journalism Review, propose a "Local Journalism Initiative" to revive local news organs. The internet (and monopoly news corporations, don't forget) have basically killed the advertiser-funded model of journalism, so Messrs. McChesney and Nichols would turn to taxpayer funding to restart the web of local news organs that kept us all connected until recently. The Initiative would send a lump sum of money to every county and then that county's eligible voters would vote on which three news organs to spend it upon (though, depending on the vote, more news organs than that could receive the money); the only news organs that could receive that money would be non-profit, county-based, functioning for six months, completely independent of any larger entities, and publish original content at least five days weekly. All that's for folks who read "taxpayer funding" and saw only the spectre of totalitarianism -- and for folks who think the BBC's failures mean NO GUBMINT INVOLVEMENTZ EVAHZ!!!!!!
From the "He's Not Wrong!" file: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wants a "strategic pause" on negotiations over the COMPETES Act, saying that Jeff Bezos shouldn't get a "$10 billion bailout to fuel his space hobby." And they say there are no populists on the left! Of course there are; our "liberal" media just ignores them. But the way he puts it is the way we should all put it, not just because nobody actually likes "bailouts," but because once right-wingers weaponize a word or a phrase, it's only right that we should take the words from them and point them back at them. (His repurposing of Sen. Manchin's "strategic pause" phrase is just icing on the cake here.)
Iowa judge rules that former one-term Rep. Abby Finkenauer can't appear on the Iowa Democratic Senate ballot in early June, because a few of the signatures she gathered for the campaign have no dates on them. Losing this case by literally three signatures sounds petty, but if you're that close to the line (Iowa requires a certain number of signatures, but also requires that at least 100 of them come from at least 19 different counties), you didn't do your job. Overall, I'd say this is no great loss. And it's also a boon for Admiral Mike Franken, who's been all over my Facebook feed saying how bad Fox News is for his soldiers, which sure doesn't make me hate him.
I'll admit I was surprised that Donald Trump endorsed Mehmet "Dr." Oz for Pennsylvania's Senate seat this year -- I'd figured he'd just prefer to wait to see who won and then pretend that was his choice the whole time. David McCormick's road to the nomination just got a lot harder -- and, ah, nobody really thinks Rick Santorum's quickly-issued endorsement will save him, right? Rick Santorum lost his last statewide election by 18 points 15 years ago and he was the incumbent! -- but I can't say Jeff Bartos's road to the nomination got that much harder; one could see benefits and drawbacks to having only one opponent he can call a carpet-bagger. If Mr. Oz is the nominee, then Republicans may not have as easy a time saddling John Fetterman with the story of the Black man he chased down with a gun, since their guy basically said on TV that we'll have to sacrifice more children to the economy. (Also, don't believe that the Trump brain-trust is having a "meltdown" over this endorsement. It's always drama when right-wingers fight in public, and of course it's bad drama.)
Finally, this just may be my favorite headline so far this year: "U.S. Didn’t Expect Major Explosions When an ISIS Bomb Factory Was Bombed." The article describes "a flawed 'collateral damage estimate' before an airstrike that killed scores of Iraqis in 2015," but (and I know this will come as a shock to you!) I don't think stupidity explains this mistake; I think malice does. Not in the I WANTZ TO KILLZ TEH NONWHITEZ PEEPULZ!!!! sense, but in the sense that you find it harder to prove to everyone you're "tough on terror" if you pass up targets "merely" because they might literally blow up and kill innocent people. I'm not sure I can say that's better, though. (And brace yourself for yet another iteration of nobody could have predicted in one of the post-strike assessments.)